Nutrition: Know Your ABC and D’s…

When it comes to nutrition, it’s important to know your ABC and D’s…

abcd_building-blocks

A is for Appetite…
While many people eat 3 meals a day and a snack or 2 throughout the day, others may not. Some people eat when they are bored. Other people eat when they are stressed, and still others seem to be constantly eating. While there is no hard and fast rule about how many times a day we should be eating, we should all pay attention to our appetites and what we are eating. When is the last time you asked yourself before reaching for that snack, “Am I really hungry?” The truth is that many people reach for those crackers, or chips because they are bored, or stressed out and really just want something to do, or have something to make them feel better, or satisfied for awhile. If you ask yourself if you are really hungry, you might figure out that you are really craving something else. Maybe going on a walk, or doing some quick stretches is a better option. If you really do feel hungry, try and find something that will give you some sustained energy such as an apple with peanut butter, a handful of nuts, etc.

B is for Bright Colors…
When it comes to foods, we all know that we should be eating more vegetables, as well as some fruit. Vegetables contain vital nutrients that our bodies need and we can’t get enough of them from other sources of food, or by taking vitamins, as we would have to mega-dose, which isn’t  good for you. That is why it is so important that we all eat our vegetables and plenty of them. When we sit down to eat, we should reach first for foods with more color. This should be fairly easy to do, as our eyes are typically drawn to bright colors. Think carrots, tomatoes, peppers, beets, corn, asparagus, egg plant, etc. Vegetables contain plenty of nutrients, plus include some powerful antioxidants that can help fight free radicals and their damaging effects.

We should also be adding more greens to our diets, as they are the most common missing food for most people. Many greens are rich in calcium, magnesium; phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E & K, etc. There are a variety of greens to choose from including kale, spinach, arugula, chard, etc. You can use them in salads, smoothies, make green juice with them, add them in with your main dish, saute them in olive oil and seasoning, etc. There are many options.

Adding more fruit to your diet is another way to help eat more healthfully. Fruit also contains a variety of nutrients that our bodies need, along with antioxidants. Many fruits also contain a healthy dose of fiber, which can help make us feel full. Many people prefer fruit over vegetables, as most fruit is sweet, but keep in mind that fruit does contain sugar, so you don’t want to eat too much. One to two servings of fruit a day is plenty. Fruit comes in a bright array of colors. Reach for apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, etc. Berries are also a good choice, as many of them contain anti-inflammatory nutrients—Think blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.

C is for Conscious Choices…
We live in a society that is fast-paced, so it is quite common for many people to eat on the go and lean towards purchasing foods that are convenient. The problem is that these prepared foods often lack nutrients that our bodies need and crave, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, and numerous others. People are often busy running from this meeting to that meeting, or running the kids here, or there, so many times people just don’t take the time to prepare a lunch to bring with them to work, or take the time to cook and prepare a meal at home later on. Many people often opt instead for a frozen pizza, go out to eat, or prepare some other convenient packaged food item. The truth is that even if you don’t have a lot of time to prepare a home cooked meal, you can always make conscious choices about what to eat. For example, you can choose a salad over a slice of pizza. You can also try and plan ahead and have food in your refrigerator that is more healthful. Cut up vegetables and store them in containers that can be easily transported with you. That way you can have a crunchy snack that is good for you, instead of reaching for a bag of Dorito’s from a vending machine. You can also have a variety of fruit on hand that you can easily grab, or take with you. Cooking ahead is another option. That way you have food ready to eat, or combine in with something else. For example, you can cook or grill a package of chicken breasts one day, and then cut the  chicken in slices to have ready for salads, tacos, fajitas, etc. This saves time, as well as can give you a variety of options for meals.

Make sure you have plenty of healthful snack options on hand too, to help avoid other unhealthy food choices.  Stock up on nuts such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc. You can also have both fresh and dried fruit, yogurt, dark chocolate, etc. Buy whatever healthy snacks work for you and your body.

D is for Destination…
Keep in mind that we all come from different ethnic backgrounds and that our ancestry can also shape our diets. Many cultures have specific foods that are unique to them and eat in a way that works well for their body and their culture. In certain regions of the world, some foods are prevalent and abundant and were naturally incorporated in the diet. For example, if your ancestors are from Japan, they most likely ate a lot of fish. Other items prevalent in their diets include rice, tofu, vegetables and fruits. If your ancestors are from Germany like mine, you might do well on a hearty diet of meat, potatoes and vegetables. Don’t be surprised if you crave some foods that are common to your ancestral background, especially if you haven’t eaten something in awhile. This is normal and for many people eating ancestral foods works well.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

 

 

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